Dawes proves everything is good with the release of Nothing is Wrong
:: Dawes and Blitzen Trapper ::
By Timothy Dwenger
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year for Los Angeles rock band Dawes. They have released their stellar sophomore album Nothing Is Wrong, toured with Allison Krauss, and performed as the backing band for legends Robbie Robertson and Jackson Browne.
In a recent interview with The Marquee, nonchalant frontman Taylor Goldsmith made it sound like it is all in a day’s work for him and his three bandmates.
“Both of those opportunities came about in pretty typical, expected ways; friends of friends kind of things, I guess. Robbie’s manager called our old producer and said, ‘I’m looking for someone to sing background vocals on my record,’ and my name came up. After I did that he needed a band for his shows and said, ‘What about that guy Taylor’s band?’” Goldsmith said. “On the other hand, Jackson is an old friend of our producer and he had him listen to some of our stuff and Jackson liked it, so we got the opportunity to get involved with each other. These experiences have been amazing. Both of those guys have been huge influences to us and heroes of ours, so to get to play with them was incredible.”
At first listen, the influences of Robertson’s former group, The Band, and Jackson Browne are immediately apparent, as are ’70s West Coast staples likes Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Eagles. With a sound that is reminiscent of the glory days of Laurel Canyon, Goldsmith’s slight reedy tenor is joined in tight harmonies by his brother, Griffin, to create rich vocal layers backed by primarily folk-rock melodies that are strongly rooted in Americana. It’s a formula that has been around for years, but one that sounds fresh in the hands of these four young musicians.
When discussing Nothing Is Wrong, Goldsmith is quick to give credit to producer Jonathan Wilson, who helped to shape the very distinct sound that characterizes this album and their debut, North Hills. “He just understands our musical personalities and his priorities are our priorities. You know, like doing it all analog and capturing the performance rather than just recording the music,” he said. “Our tastes are almost identical. Sometimes I try things that I think that he won’t like and it turns out that I’m wrong and he loves it. As weird as things get, he really has an appreciation for whatever it becomes. He’s able to look into something and understand why it is good.”
While Wilson surely is to thank for some of the magic, Goldsmith’s songwriting and the band’s dedication to being the best they can be are also key elements to their success. As Robbie Robertson put it after playing with them, “They’re really good and they’re a band — it’s different than just getting a bunch of individual musicians and trying to make them click and blend. They’re all at the top of their game. They know what works. I appreciate a young band with a broad horizon. Dawes is that in space.”
When he had a chance to reflect on Robertson’s words, Goldsmith admitted that he was humbled and shared what he thinks is one of the keys to Dawes’ success. “We all get along great. We are really lucky that way,” he said. “I feel for bands that don’t get along well, it’s just a matter of time. Whether or not you are enjoying yourself onstage, you have to go through everything together all day everyday and I feel like getting along is almost the most important thing to being successful at this,” he said.
Dawes had a couple of advantages in that department over most bands. For one, the fraternal bond between Taylor and Griffin is, for better or worse, permanent, and second, Goldsmith and bassist Wylie Gelber have been around the block together once before in a band called Simon Dawes. While Simon Dawes dissolved when Goldsmith’s songwriting partner Blake Mills left that group for personal reasons, it gave Gelber and Goldsmith the opportunity to handpick two new members who would slip smoothly into the groove they had going. It appears to have worked near flawlessly.
While Simon Dawes generally leaned more toward a more aggressive, post-punk sound, Goldsmith admitted that his writing had taken a turn toward folk-rock before that band dissolved. “A lot of the songs that were on the first Dawes album were going to be Simon Dawes songs because I was writing in a different way at that point,” he said as he spoke about the fairly significant differences between the styles of the two bands. The fact that Mills left and Simon Dawes came to an end allowed Goldsmith to confidently venture off in his new direction under a similar but separate and distinct moniker.
This new direction seems to be suiting Goldsmith and the rest of Dawes very well as the praise just keeps rolling in. While Simon Dawes had attained moderate levels of success, it was nothing compared to the attention that this Americana steeped folk-rock project has been receiving over the past year. If there is any justice — and only time will tell — their name will one day be mentioned in the same breath as the legends they have recently been working with.
:: Dawes and Blitzen Trapper ::
:: Fox Theatre :: November 7 ::
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